An Indie Group With a Unique Image
Thornapple is an indie band from Seoul that began in 2009. Their first album was an overnight success that helped to cement the boy group in the small niche of Korean indie music. While their music is not as popular overseas as their K-Pop counterparts, the band stays committed to writing and creating new songs and to their fans.The band focuses on music and lyrics that allow the listeners to feel and connect with their emotions and are heavily inspired by band-member Yoon”s struggles with mental illness. The Seoul Journal managed to sit down with them recently to discuss their latest songs, their inspirations and their listeners.
SJ: How would you introduce Thornapple to the world?
YOON : We're a quartet in South Korea. Our name, 'Thornapple’ (Datura, the psychedelic plant) represents our image and sound. Also, 'thorn' means pain and 'apple' means the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.
SJ: : What kind of music are you making?
YOON: We make music with the sound of a four piece band. We don't like the distinctions of musical genres.
SJ: What would you call the most unique quality of Thornapple’s music?
YOON: Strange feelings. But it makes sympathy to ordinary people. I called this 'contradiction'. That's our most attractive point.
HONG: Lyrics with various interpretations and performances that express it.
SJ: How did you start making music?
YOON: I am the kind of person who must create something. Creativity is self-therapy to me because of my mental illness.
SJ: What kind of listeners are you making music for?
YOON: For myself. Musicians don’t choose the listeners. When music is born, everything becomes uncertain. That is mine no more.
SJ: Who are your favourite musicians, both Korean and foreign?
SHIM: Radiohead, Fishmans(Japanese).
HONG: Underwears Band(Korean), Radiohead.
SJ: What do you usually write songs about?
YOON: I write about feelings that don't have language: the emotional things mixed with anxiety and delusion. The permanent separation between inside and outside and the thirst which originates from the above.
SJ: Tell us a bit about your albums.
YOON: We released two albums and one EP. The EP (Seoul Illness which translates to Capital Illness) is our latest one. I wanted to talk about the illness, disease, disorder and sickness in my city. 'Seoul' means the capital of South Korea. Also, it means some crucial things to one's inner-world. This EP expresses THORNAPPLE's present situation.
SJ: Most people outside Korea know K-pop more than K-indie music. Do you think that is changing?
YOON: Maybe not. The quality of music and popularity are not in direct proportion. This is a bigger problem in South Korea than in other countries. The non-mainstream music of its own country doesn't easily reach foreign listeners.
SJ: Is there a musician or band that you would like to collaborate with?
YOON: None. I only have very private things. I think these things are not easy to have chemistry with someone else’s work.
SJ: Is there a place where it is your dream to perform?
YOON: None. I only want the place where I can concentrate on myself and our music.
HONG: Glastonbury Festival’s main stage.
SJ: What, in your opinion is the most important part of making good music?
YOON: Do not cook up words. Only tell myself the truth. This makes everything well.
HONG: Emotion. No matter how technical and sophisticated you play, there is no use in playing without emotion.
SJ: What has been Thornapple’s proudest moment?
YOON: Each time we write a new song. That moment fills me with emotion incomparable to any time. Maybe I am addicted that feeling, so I write songs continuously.
SJ: : You have been in the Korean indie music scene for a long time. Have you seen any notable changes in it?
SHIM: Unfortunately, I think there is no character in the indie scene and it has a limit in the scene’s capacity. So, I hope to always come up with the new wave on indie music market.
SJ: Are you currently involved in recording or any other projects?
BANG: None. Our EP recording is the latest one.
SJ: What do the members like to do outside of work and music?
YOON: I like cooking. I think making my own food is a very attractive thing to do. Also, the non-musical creation is a good arousal to a musician.
HONG: I like watching baseball games and pro wrestling. Recently, I started watching Quentin Tarantino’s movies again.
BANG: Recently, I like to go to eat delicious food.
SHIM: I'm riding a bicycle or exercising for fitness management to keep my music well.
SJ: What advice would you give to someone who is trying to create indie music in Korea?
YOON: The most important thing is being true to yourself. Even if the musician's truth doesn't reach the listener, that is the only meaningful thing to do.